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the British Isles has a narrower range of indigenous tree species than other european countries, as a result of its

separation from mainland europe since the last Ice age. Scots pine is the only native conifer of economic significance, and with the initial policy emphasis on timber production, the forest industry had to consider the use of non-native species. new silvicultural techniques were developed to establish a range of imported conifers, particularly those from north america. Sitka spruce proved especially suited to the oceanic climate and grew well on the poorest of soils. It now provides timber much in demand by the wood processing industry.

Semi-natural woodland
the UK has no truly natural forest, but there are around 650 000 hectares of semi-natural woodland of which about 326 000 hectares (~1.2% of land area) are identified by the nature conservation agencies as ancient semi-natural. this is mainly composed of broadleaved species, but includes the native pine forests of Highland Scotland. ancient semi-natural woodlands (aSnW) are derived from the original forest cover of the British Isles, and have had more or less continuously tree-covered use. they are

4. Forestry in the UK
Table 4.1 total woodland area for the UK (000s hectares). Broadleaves Conifers Total Forestry Commission / Forest Service England 59 155 214 Scotland 33 447 481 Wales 16 98 114 N. Ireland 6 55 61 UK 114 755 870 Non-Forestry Commission / Forest Service England 827 256 1 083 Scotland 276 633 909 Wales 121 69 190 N. Ireland 17 10 27 UK 1 241 969 2 209 All woodland England 886 411 1 297 Scotland 309 1 081 1 390 Wales 138 167 304 N. Ireland 22 66 88 UK 1 355 1 724 3 079 Old small-leaved lime coppice in a semi-natural woodland.

UK FOreStry Standard 15 especially significant for biodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage, and reflect centuries of interactions between human activities and the environment. aSnWs have a unique character and they support a high proportion of rare and threatened species. to be described on the aSnW inventory, there must be indications that the woodland has continuously existed. the indicative dates of 1600 in england and 1750 in Scotland are used, but evidence depends on mapped records and these are sometimes uncertain.

Ownership and management

approximately two-thirds of the woodland area in the UK is owned by a diverse range of individuals and groups, including farmers, family trusts, charitable trusts, local groups and companies. typically, woodlands owned by family interests are a part of mixed estates or farms where there are many thousands of small and scattered woodlands. Based on agricultural censuses, it is estimated that there are around 60 000 farm woodland holdings of which about 50 000 are less than 10 hectares. Unlike parts of mainland europe, the UK has relatively few holdings where both forestry and agriculture are run as an integrated business. the remaining one-third of woodland area is publicly owned, the majority of it managed by the Forestry Commission and, in northern Ireland, the Forest Service an agency within the department of agriculture and rural development. these forests are managed in the public interest to meet a wide range of objectives that encompass environmental, economic and social benefits. the Forestry Commission initially acquired some wooded estates, but in the main it created new forests on areas of low agricultural value using mostly conifer species. Unlike many parts of europe, the UK does not have a tradition of forests owned or managed on a community basis although greater community involvement has emerged as a theme in recent years and has been developed through a wide range of local woodland initiatives. timber production is usually the primary aim in the management of larger forests, but an increasingly wide range of objectives including biodiversity, amenity and investment now feature. Providing public benefit can be shown, forest management may be supported with government grants. the provision of sport has been a particularly important influence in the forest history of the UK, from the time of the norman Conquest. Cover for game remains an important objective on many wooded estates and farms and has contributed to retention of many small woods that might otherwise have been neglected and eventually lost from the landscape. Small, scattered woodlands deliver a range of landscape, biodiversity and other benefits but remain vulnerable to neglect, as the potential revenues from managing them have dwindled and rarely exceed the costs. More recently, a resurgence of interest in wood for fuel may offer new markets. Some woodlands are owned and managed by local authorities and an increasing number are managed specifically for amenity, recreational and conservation purposes by charitable trusts, partnerships and some individual owners.

Forestry policy
Sustainable forest management, as set out by the UKFS, is the fundamental tenet of forestry policy in the UK. the articulation of forestry policy is devolved to country administrations, although some overarching functions

including plant health and international issues are dealt with on a GB or UK basis. england, Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland each have their own forestry programmes or strategies setting out policies and priorities for forest creation and management in the national context. these are further refined at regional and local levels, often in partnership with other organisations, to deliver objectives for forestry and woodland management on the ground.
Farm woodland, such as this in north Wales, provides shelter and shade for livestock.

Forestry in the uk

Forests and woodlands in the UK are an integral part of a landscape that has evolved over several thousand years of changing land use. the nature of woodland cover is very different from much of the rest of europe, in terms of extent, history and ownership. However, the UK has been at the forefront of developing the concept of sustainable forestry and in recognising the benefits that forests and woodlands can deliver for society and the environment.

Box 4.1 Balanced objectives

Sustainable forest management involves ensuring that the production of all forest and woodland benefits is maintained over the long term. This is achieved when the environmental, economic and social functions of forests and woodlands are interacting in support of each other, as can be illustrated in the diagram on the left. The precise point of balance between environmental, economic and social functions will vary in individual forests and woodlands in response to management objectives and local circumstances. The concept of balanced objectives is central to the approach of the UK Forestry Standard.